We have reports today of Iraqi citizens dancing in the streets, showering our service men and women with flowers, kisses and expressions of gratitude.
In less than a month since American and British armed forces set upon their task – in the face of worldwide inertia – to liberate an oppressed people from a hideous tyrant, victory is beginning to emerge from the smoke of on-the-scene reportage.
Once again, the combined might of the English speaking peoples has showered the light of hope on a dark corner of the world.
It is fitting, then, that we recall that today is the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy awarding Winston Churchill honorary American citizenship.
In his White House speech on April 9, 1963, Kennedy honored Churchill by saying, “wherever and whenever tyranny threatened, he has always championed liberty.”
Kennedy, of course, was speaking of Churchill’s role in keeping Britain afloat during the days of World War II, when the United States was mobilizing for a two-front war. Churchill’s, and Britain’s, effort have been deemed critical to our combined victories over Germany and Japan.
But Churchill, ever feisty at 88 years of age, refused to look only on the past. At a time when it appeared Britain was fading from the world scene, he said in his acceptance speech:
“I reject the view that Britain and the Commonwealth should now be relegated to a tame and minor role in the world. Our past is the key to our future, which I firmly trust and believe will be no less fertile and glorious. Let no man underrate our energies, our potentialities and our abiding power for good.”
Forty years to the day, does it not appear that Sir Winston Churchill is being prescient from the grave?
In his speech, Churchill did comment on the Allied relationship, saying, “I contemplate with high satisfaction the constant factor of the interwoven and upward progress of our peoples.”
And today, as then, Churchill’s next comment is note perfect: “Our comradeship and our brotherhood in war were unexampled. We stood together, and because of that fact the free world now stands.”
Today, because Britain once again stood beside America – and against tyranny – the people of Iraq have an opportunity to regain their feet and stand free.
The full text of President Kennedy’s proclamation and his and Churchill’s speeches can be found here.